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Review of the Ruger 10/22 .22 LR

Ahhh, the iconic .22 rifle. For most gun guys, the first gun we ever got was a .22 rifle. I remember when I was about nine years old and my father gave me a Stevens Crackshot .22. Well, I thought that was about the coolest thing ever when I was 9.

A Bit of Nostalgia

That rifle was a single shot, rolling block action that fired a .22 short. Not much really, but excellent for teaching the fundamentals of shooting to a kid. Of course prior to that .22 I had BB and pellets guns, so I really learned the fundamentals of shooting with those. The .22 though, was my first REAL gun that went bang.

Ruger 10 22 Tasco 3 9 x 40 scope

A few years later for Easter vacation, my father and I went to Florida to visit with some family that he hadn’t seen for a long time. Pat and Louise lived in the wilds of Florida, not really what you think of when you think of Florida. We did go to the beach but I didn’t get in the water because I had just seen Jaws not too long before that, so I was none too keen about swimming in the ocean.

One thing about their home in the Florida jungles that you had to watch out for was rattlesnakes. They were not only everywhere, but they were BIG too. So as we were walking about their five acres and picking fresh vegetables from the garden, pat was telling me stories about the chickens that were following us around and how they killed rattlesnakes.

After lunch that day Pat, my father and I got in Pat’s truck and rode down the road a couple of minutes and then my father said, “Here, go put this target on the tree”. I was excited as I thought he had either brought my Crackshot, or I was going to get to fire another one of his handguns.

worm farming

My Second .22

Well, to my joyous surprise he presented me with my second gun, a Winchester model 190 semi-auto .22 rifle. That gun was about the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. 17 shots of .22 LONG RIFLE. No more wimpy .22 shorts and one shot at a time. Now I had some FIREPOWER!

I had fired larger caliber guns since my first experience with my Crackshot as my father had let me fire his various handguns. I had fired various .38 specials, but my favorite that he handed me one day behind a bar when I was 10 years old and pointed into the ditch and said, “See if you can hit the wheel down there”.

The Awesome, Iconic, Colt 1911

He handed me an actual Colt 1911 .45 ACP, engraved, nickel plated, pearl grips. That gun was a thing of beauty, and I hit that wheel 7 shots out of 7 shots and I have been addicted to guns ever since. All of those guns are long gone now. My father is too. But he left in me a passion for firearms that will never be gone.

Still Love .22’s

Since those first couple of .22 rifles I have owned countless more of different makes and models. I went several years without owning a .22 having forgoing them for big boy guns like AK’s, SKS’s, AR’s, FAL’s, and hunting rifles like .308’s, .270’s, and 30-06’s.

Then about 15 years ago a friend brought me a “broken” Mossberg .22 because I like to fix old broken guns, and so I gave him $30 for. It just needed a firing pin so I made one for it and now it’s a good shooter. But it got me back into wanting to shoot .22’s of which I have a few now, that old mossy’ being one (it’s worth about $200 now).

The Ruger 10/22

By far though, my favorite .22 rifle is the Ruger 10/22. The one I own now is the third one I have owned. I first got one only about 10 years ago and it was an aluminum receiver model, not sure what year it was manufactured.

I got it used in a trade from an online gun classifieds called Armslist.com, where I have gotten many of my firearms. Actually very few of the guns I have owned over the years were bought new. Maybe 15% of them, the rest I got used because why not? They are often bargain priced and usually better quality than the newer versions of the same gun.

If you don’t know much about guns, I’d advise you do your homework before you buy ANY gun anywhere. Especially if you buy a used gun. Unfortunately there are less than honest people selling used guns that are more concerned about how much they can get out of you than what the gun is really worth.

Besides, I can tell if it’s in good shape or not and can save some money that way. Sometimes I can find one that is “broken” and fix it and get a really good bargain too. I have gotten a few “broken” guns that I repaired, and kept and shoot it for awhile. Then later I’d trade it for other guns that were worth considerably more money than I paid for the “broken” one. That’s how I got my current 10/22, which I like a lot and plan to keep forever.

So the Story Goes

My nephew was looking for a good cheap gun, and I found a pair of old Taurus Brazilian police/prison guard .38 specials that were rough looking for $150 each. I told him I was going to get one, he could have the other. So we went and got them. I refinished mine and put new target grips on it that concealed a lanyard loop on the bottom of the grip frame and it is an excellent shooter. I still have it.

He took his home and let it sit and rust more for about a year then sold it to me. I paid him the $150 he originally gave for it. I refinished it and cleaned, sanded, and refinished the grips on it and then traded it for the 10/22 I have. It is an older model with a walnut stock and a threaded muzzle barrel.

1022 muzzle brake

It came with an AR style birdcage flash hider that at first I didn’t like but then after I shot the gun I think is amazing. Since it is a threaded muzzle I can use a suppressor on it if I so desired.  So I think I got a good deal for the .38 I traded for it.

I refinished the stock on it because someone else had tried and did a deplorable job. I also put a folding bi-pod and a 3-9×40 variable power Tasco scope on it. It’s not an expensive scope, $50 at Waldo’s world, but it’s a great scope. I have the same scope on a muzzle loader too and they are great for the money.

Metal or Plastic

Anyway, the new Ruger 10/22’s have a polymer receiver, of which I am not a fan of. I have handled them because I owned one. Oh sure, it shot just fine. But I just can’t get over that plastic. So I sold the plastic one, and started looking for an older aluminum receiver one. That’s when I found an ad on Armslist where a guy was looking to trade his 10/22 for a handgun. I called him up and we traded for the Taurus .38.

I looked up the serial number for this rifle (on left side of receiver) and it falls into the year 2005. It is my understanding that 2005 was the last year of the aluminum receiver models. I couldn’t have gotten any newer of a gun and still had the aluminum receiver.

This one has an aluminum trigger group and an aluminum butt plate too (which I polished), and it is legitimately a tack driver. At short distances of about 25 yards with this big scope on it I can literally write with it.

I have cut targets in half right across the middle just to show off when shooting with buddies. At 50 yards I can shoot the bullseye out with it. But again, I have a great big scope on it.

How to Tell if It’s Metal or Plastic

If you go to buy a new one, it’s going to be polymer. Plastic, there’s no way around it if you buy a new one. If you want a good metal one then you will have to buy it used. You can look up the serial number for a Ruger 10/22 here, then you will know what year it was manufactured.

If you want to be double sure then take it apart like you’re going to clean it and inside the receiver where the bolt rides you will be able to see the aluminum (like in the picture below). Anything made in 2005, or EARLIER, will be an aluminum receiver and should also have an aluminum trigger group as well.

1022 reciever

The bad thing about that is someone could have swapped the aluminum trigger group for a polymer one. To be able to tell if the other parts are aluminum like the barrel ring, butt plate and trigger group you have to take the gun apart as if you are cleaning it.

Take the barrel ring off, remove the screw completely. You should be able to see some metal in the screw hole like in the picture below. If not, then kind of lightly toss the ring and tap it with the screw. It will sound like a bell if it is metal, it will not ring if it is plastic.

1022 barrel clamp
Photo: 1022 barrel clamp

To check the butt plate take out one screw, it should show a little finish wear in the recess under the screw head. If you still can’t tell, then just take the butt plate off and tap it with a screw again. Metal will ring, plastic won’t.

1022 buttplate
Photo: 1022 buttplate

The trigger assembly is the same way, remove it and where the retainer/take down pins go through it you can see gray colored metal in the hole (where I’m pointing with the screwdriver in the picture below). A plastic one will just be black plastic through and through.

1022 trigger ass

To check the butt plate take out one screw, it should show a little finish wear in the recess under the screw head. If you still can’t tell, then just take the butt plate off and tap it with a screw again. Metal will ring, plastic won’t.

Most likely if the serial number is good you will be ok, but if you just want to make absolutely sure then you can inspect the parts as described above.

More Good Stuff

Another great thing about the 10/22 is they sell tons of aftermarket parts for it. You can put a fancy thumbhole style target stock, and a stainless steel bull barrel on it for shooting super accurate competitions.

This video shows a Ruger 10/22 similar to that:

You can dress it up tacticool style by putting a bull pup stock on it as seen in this video here:

You can put the archangel stock system on it as shown:

You can get the Ruger 10/22 in a takedown version, easily stowed in a backpack:

They even sell pistol versions of the 10/22 platform as seen here:

And here is a target pistol version called a charger:

The Ruger 10/22 makes a great machine gun too, just don’t convert one illegally using the directions in this video or you will go to prison:

If you want full auto style without the risk of prison you can buy this Gatling gun conversion as seen here:

Final Volley

There you have it. The Ruger 10/22, it is the best .22 LR caliber rifle that you can buy in my opinion. You can buy infinite accessories for it, including high capacity 25, 30, and 50 round magazines for it for lots of firepower. You can create a version in your own tastes with endless after market barrels and stocks.

You can build a target version or a tacticool version. You can just leave it like it came from the factory like mine. I only added a bi-pod and a scope, and it is an amazing shooting little gun. Fun, reliable, accurate, all for a couple hundred bucks.

It is such a good gun that Remington tried to compete with Ruger by coming out with the model 597. It offers high capacity mags and dress up kits for it like the 10/22 does, but it just isn’t the same quality. I owned a 597 but I didn’t keep it long. The inherent safety issues with Remington rifles even applies to their .22’s a guess because the safety on mine was horrid.

I’ll stick with my Ruger, thank you.

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About Eric W. Eichenberger

Eric Eichenberger is an avid outdoorsman, skilled marksman, and former certified range officer and instructor with nearly 40 years experience handling and repairing firearms. A skilled craftsman with a strong love for working with his hands, Eric spent 20 years as a carpenter and custom woodworker in high end homes. As a gold and silversmith he has created hundreds of pieces of jewelry over the years using the lost wax casting method. The grandson of humble country folk, he was raised with the “do it yourself” mentality and so is accustomed to coming up with unique solutions to problems utilizing materials at hand. Later in life Eric went on to earn an AA from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College where he is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society. This was followed by earning his BA/psychology from Western Kentucky University where he was invited to join the Psi Chi honors society. Eric is also an associate member of the KPA (Kentucky Psychological Association). It was during his time as a student of psychology that he discovered his passion for writing. He has 2 gun-related books slated for a summer release.

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